December 6, 2022

Acage

Outstanding health & fitness

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: A completely different pace | Columnists

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This month I had the opportunity to visit a land holding a strong tradition of food and wine while also possessing a robust history that shaped the world we live in today.

A 10-day trip to Portugal offered me the gift of seeing the way people live, eat, and interact who reside halfway around the world. I’m sure many travelers can relate to the experiences a trip to a distant land can impress upon the mind. In my case, returning from the densely populated city of Lisbon offered me the gift of the deafening silence back in the sanctuary of my hometown of Napa.

As I strolled throughout the alleyways of Lisbon on my first early morning, cubes of tightly packed basalt stones made up the sidewalks. This distinctive walkway was the accepted way of every sidewalk in the country. Its archaic image made walking a little interesting, as the sidewalks were uneven.

These walkways offered an intriguing uphill track to a café where I eagerly awaited breakfast. Ham and cheese croissants, bread, and the nationally recognized Portuguese pastry pastéis de nata were on full display.

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We learned that some of the nuns and monks created these egg custard-filled tarts and sold them at bake sales to raise money for their churches. These tantalizingly delicious foods were about 75% of my diet as I enjoyed this traditional way of eating a pastry with a cup of espresso each morning.

The cities of Porto, Lisbon, Sintra, and the Faro district of the azure-tinted beach waters of the Algarve region taught me an unforgettable lesson on how vast and old the world is on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Castles, massive walls to fend off invaders, churches and structures still standing from the 15th century gave me a sense of appreciation of the history that brought the human race to be as sophisticated as it is today.

Along the way, I endured quite a few challenges. A diet consisting of ham, cheese and cream paired with a climate of cigarette smoke infiltrating the air being absorbed directly into my respiratory system was not the usual environment I was accustomed to in my healthy lifestyle back in Napa.

After two days of absorbing a copious amount of these foods, my digestive tract was in immediate stress. My nose, throat, and sinuses became irritated from the exposure to cigarette smoke while walking through narrow alleys and inhaling exhaust fumes from the cars that rampaged through the narrow streets. Automobiles zipped an inch past me as the hasty taxi drivers of Lisbon navigated through the tiny one-way streets.

This new environment left me with a few physical adaptations needed to fully enjoy this trip without an upset stomach or a black lung.

I needed to find a way to counteract my gluttonous Shangri-La of world-renowned Portuguese cuisine so my digestive system didn’t feel like I got hit by the 130 mph train that took us from Porto to the Algarve.

Fortunately, the restaurants we visited throughout lunch and dinner offered a wide array of roasted veggies and salads, and many of the cafés and restaurants along my journey offered tapas-style menu items. These small plates had various vegetable plates to choose from.

Consuming veggies during lunch and dinner was critically important because of the fiber and high concentration of water they contained in the leafy greens, raw fruits and grilled squash-like items.

Therefore, as I created my itinerary of food consumption, I made sure to locate restaurants that offered vegetables in various preparations. This way, I could enjoy the fantastic traditional Portuguese dishes with butter, cream, cheese, and bread as their primary ingredients while consuming fresh veggies at each meal.

Traveling for work or pleasure can be rough on the body. We aren’t exposed to the same healthy habits we create for ourselves on the home front. However, it’s essential to identify what factors might pose an obstacle to our physical well-being. Some factors that might impede our health while traveling include suboptimal food decisions and lack of hydration.

The adverse effects of too much delicious, fatty, and dehydrated food can be mitigated by choosing healthier options, such as salads or grilled and roasted veggies. Embracing this tactic not only made my stomach remain in equilibrium, but I also learned some invaluable tricks on the different vegetable combinations and how they were prepared in each dish. I couldn’t wait to go home and visit the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday and showcase my newly acquired food knowledge with some fresh fruits and vegetables I learned about on my trip to Portugal.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Simple exercises for a huge impact

Finding time to exercise is challenging but if you can find time to perform one or two exercises first thing in the morning, this can can accomplish simple and effective exercises. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Food choices for a champion

On the run up to a championship match, the foods you choose will make a difference. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Chip bowl salads for dinner

What’s for dinner? Before you turn to Door Dash, fitness pro Sean McCawley has a suggestion. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Watching your fitness grow

When striving to meet fitness goals, try keeping in mind a growing a plant — both a plant and your body thrive in a nurturing, supportive environment.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Waking up and exercising, Part 2

Exercising first thing in the morning may sound like a challenge, but the benefits far outweigh the pain of getting out of bed a few minutes earlier.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Waking up and exercising, Part 1

Rise and shine — or rest in bed? Sean McCawley provides reasons for getting yourself up in the morning. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Just don't hurt your back, Part 2

We don’t realize how vital lower back health is until an accidental injury debilitates us, but exercises can help avoid this calamity. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Just don't hurt your back, Part 1

A long-plane ride, turning your head the wrong way, even sleeping in an odd position, can tweak your back just enough to derail physical activities. The first step in avoiding these injuries, is learning the anatomy of your spine. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Try a digital detox

We can fall into an unhealthy rut of spending too much time on our phones. Take some time for yourself by stepping away from your cell phone to experience the gifts the world offers us that are right in front of us.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Do I need a protein supplement?

A few popular questions fitness trainer Sean McCawley is asked are: “How many calories should I consume?”, “Are carbs bad?”, “Should I be paleo?” and “What type of protein supplement should I take?”


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: How to drink enough water

Staying hydrated is important to overall health, longevity and functionality, writes fitness coach Sean McCawley. So how do you drink enough water each day? He has a plan for you.  


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Fear of fitness

If stepping into a gym is as intimidating to you as a walk in Jurassic Park, Sean McCawley has idea to help you overcome your anxiety and give yourself a gift of exercise. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Resistance training to strengthen bones

An exercise program of resistance training can significantly increase your body’s ability to build strength in your bones.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Exercise the muscles you don't use daily

From construction worker to desk worker, we all have muscles we don’t use in a typical day. Your can supercharge your fitness by adding exercises that target these areas of the body.

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Your relationship with exercise

If you struggle adhering to an exercise program, pick out a few keywords of how exercise makes you feel like what you’re doing has value. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Reasons for pushups

Fitness expert Sean McCawley explores why and how to do pushups.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: A 90-day game plan for weight loss

She wanted to lose 10 pounds before a vacation on the beaches of Portugal. Fitness trainer Sean McCawley helped her come up with a plan. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: A road trip down the spine

Our spine is akin to a highway in the human body. By engaging in physical activity that keeps the spinal muscles active, we perform proper maintenance on our main freeway of nerves, just as of Cal Trans workers cares for these roads. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Staving off illness

Our willpower and perseverance to make a trek to a local gym, take a yoga class or participate in outdoor physical activity are equally, if not more powerful, than any medicine that keeps us away from the doctor’s office.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: What holds you back from your goals?

Crunchy, salty, and sweet treats can provide comfort, joy and salvation from challenging times. We can’t just extract them from our lives on short notice but here are tips to still enjoy them with moderation, accountability and control.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Can you drink enough water in 2022?

One of the easiest ways to improve your health in 2022 is to be sure you are drinking enough water. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Reach your goals for 2022

A plan to enjoy 2022 and reach our goals begins with Two great places to start building a good foundation of ensuring we reach our goals in 2022 is to eat the right foods and adhere to a exercise routine.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Wound up so tight

Napa Valley fitness guru Sean McCawley has suggestions for what to do when your lifestyle has you wound up tight as a violin string. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: A guide to food and finals

Finals week — or any week during college — may not be the prime time for thinking about healthy food choices, but Sean McCawley offers some easy-to- make alternatives to one more bowl of instant ramen.  


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Processed or the real deal?

Nutritional advice today can be confusing and often contradictory. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: The Garden of Fitness

Napa fitness guru Sean McCawley outlines how to use your gardening tasks for a fitness routine worthy of a gym-workout. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Exercise to manage stress

Stress has a profound effects on our well-being, but exercising even once or twice a week can also have a profound impact on stress. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa: Nutrition and fitness

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fat are the big three that are predominantly focused on the back of nutrition labels when counting calories. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa: Keep picking things up

If you see a rogue candy wrapper left over from trick-or-treaters, bend over and pick it up. Practicing mindfulness of picking up objects from the ground helps mitigate the debilitating effects of back pain while bending over as we progress through life.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: Stop light exercises

We spend so much of our time sitting, including driving to work to get ready to sit some more. Napa fitness coach Sean McCawley suggests exercises you can do in your car to counteract the toll that prolonged sitting takes on the body.  


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: From the ground up

Napa Valley fitness pro Sean McCawley shares thoughts about the importance of continuing to get down and dirty — or at least being sure to include a few bends every day —  as we age. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: Keeping our grip as we age

It’s a hassle to regain the strength of our hands if unmaintained over time. Sean McCawley has suggestions to keep yours strong. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Making time to exercise

Constraints of hours in our demanding schedule is an eternal balancing act. Don’t the let the idea of “I don’t have enough time” hold you back from much needed exercise.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Becoming a recreational athlete

If we don’t have a physically active profession and spend 40-plus hours a  week at a desk, we have to find new ways to stay as physically fit as our hard-working ancestors. Becoming a recreational athlete is one of them. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: Tight hips mean a tight back

Focusing on the well-being of your hip flexor muscles is a great solution to alleviate common lower back symptoms in which our society struggles with on a daily basis. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life in Napa Valley: Keeping your 'floating bone' in shape

You never know how much you use your scapula — aka, your shoulder blade — until it isn’t working well. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Preparing for an event

Having a goal to work towards can give a boost to striving for health and fitness goals. Sean McCawley shares one success stor. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: There's always time for exercise

Do you feel you just don’t have time to exercise? Napa fitness guru Sean McCawley has suggestions for getting around this obstacle to fitness.  


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: How does stretching make you feel?

If your routines help you feel better throughout your day, keep them going. Sure, scientific data is always going to benefit us but it’s the traditions we practice that make us feel good that scientific data doesn’t necessarily support.


Sean McCawley, Fit for LIfe: Taking something out to feel better

A personal training client showed up sporting new clothes, hairdo, new sunglasses — and a new confidence. What was his secret? A few lifestyle changes. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: An electronics-free dinner time

Fitness guru Sean McCawley urges people to turn off the electronics and enjoy conversations dinner with their families.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: An alphabet for balance

Balance can be defined as the ability to correct imbalances. Sean McCawley has an exercise to help this. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Why do I have poor balance?

Not many of us have the skill and talent of the champion Olympic gymnast Simone Bile, but there are ways to improve our balance. 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Strong knees need strong hips

There’s nothing more frustrating than having to walk at snail speed because of nagging knee pain, but one way to keep your knees healthy is to make sure you do hip-strengthening activities. 


Sean McCawley: More help with sciatica

We can’t thrive in life when being held up by painful symptoms such as sciatica. Pick exercises that are simple, effective, and easy to replicate on weekly basis to help us live pain free, happy, and strong lives.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Mitigating sciatica via fitness, Part 1

What causes the debilitating condition sciatica and can a good exercise routine help mitigate it? 

Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Big, hairy, audacious goals

All kinds of emotions can hinder fitness plans. Sean McCawley has ideas for moving ahead to accomplish even the biggest “hairy audacious goals.”

Sean McCawley: Training for travel

Getting ready to travel again? Make sure to plan ahead for trips with a balanced exercise prescription to ensure your body is strong and injury-free to enjoy these life-changing experiences.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Fitness and pregnancy

The challenges of pregnancy are many, but understanding that the body can still benefit from a structured fitness routine throughout pregnancy helps the body ride through the mental, physical and emotional undertow.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Why we gain — and how we can lose — weight

Weight management is challenging. As we age, our metabolism decreases. However, the advancement of our age and the slowing of our metabolism is usually not the primary culprit when it comes to gaining excess weight.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Maintaining the all-important joints

Ball-and-socket, hinge and saddle — these are just a few names of the joints responsible for the elaborate movements of our bodies. They are masterfully engineered, however, they are at risk if they are left unattended.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Thoughtful and strategic weight loss

It’s not a bad idea to look at the scale and track our weight. Just make sure to understand where that weight is coming from and be mindful on managing the pathways that increase or decrease lean muscle mass and fat.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Taking time for yourself

Taking time to focus on ourselves and give ourselves the gift of exercise, can help us to be better parents, spouses and employees. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Fitness and being a parent

If parenthood has upended your old gym fitness regimes, remember you have a new exercise partner, brimming with energy and waiting to put you through a new cardio routine, running through a playground. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Blood sugar crashes

Napa fitness guru Sean McCawley shed lights upon what sugary foods do the body and how this affects our everyday life activities. 


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: The Art of Putting on Socks

The act of putting socks on can be commonly overlooked but if you lose that ability, it’s quite a task to get back. Tracking your performance on how efficiently you can put on your socks is a good marker to see what you might need to improve on to ensure you can bend up and down.


Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Your posture and smartphones

Pay attention to your posture when perusing your smart phone. These tips from Napa fitness pro Sean McCawley will help you avoid damage to your neck and spine. 

Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness in Napa, welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, [email protected] or visit the website, napatenaciousfitness.com.

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